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Lt Col Jerman
Most people with back pain don’t need surgery. In fact, surgery is often the last resort for treating back pain. There are several conditions, however, that may benefit from surgical intervention when other therapies have not succeeded in relieving pain and restoring mobility. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about some of these conditions?

Dr. Patel
Absolutely, Dr. Jerman. Conditions that may benefit from surgical treatment include:

  • Herniated disc, in rare cases
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Vertebral fracture
  • Degenerative disc disease, and
  • A tumor, infection, or nerve root problem

A herniated disc is when one or more of the intervertebral discs that cushion the vertebrae are damaged. The gel-like center of the disc, called the nucleus, can press against a nerve, causing pain and progressive weakness. A herniated disc, in and of itself, is not a condition that warrants surgery.

Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the spinal canal to become narrow. The narrowing puts pressure on the nerves and spinal cord and can cause pain.

Spondylolisthesis is when one or more vertebrae slip out of place. The most common cause in adults is abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones, but bone disease and fractures can also cause spondylolisthesis.

Vertebral fracture means one or more vertebrae has broken or crumbled. Surgery is only recommended when the fracture causes severe, incapacitating pain, when other treatments are not working, or when bone fragments are pressing on nerve roots or the spinal cord.

Degenerative disc disease is the disc deterioration that many people experience as they age. The condition can cause some discs to break down and cause severe pain.

In rare cases, when back pain is caused by a tumor, an infection, or a nerve root problem, surgery is needed to ease the pain and prevent more problems.

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